The wait is over.
After several long months without Colts football, the players are reporting to Anderson University today to begin training camp, which marks the unofficial start of the 2016 football season in many ways.
The Colts bring a 90-man roster into camp, but by the time the preseason is over they will need to have cut 37 players to get down to the 53-man roster for the season. So with camp about to begin, I take my pre-camp shot at predicting that 53-man roster.
Quarterback (2): Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien
The only question here is whether Stephen Morris will outplay Scott Tolzien enough for the backup quarterback spot, and even that feels like a long shot.
Running Back (4): Frank Gore, Robert Turbin, Josh Ferguson, Tyler Varga
I think the undrafted free agent with the best shot at making the roster is Josh Ferguson, since behind Frank Gore nothing is determined at running back. Ferguson not only could make the roster, but he could also play a role in the offense. Free agent signing Robert Turbin and last year’s camp standout Tyler Varga also could make a push for a roster spot.
Wide Receiver (5): T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, Quan Bray, Brian Tyms
The top three are set, but after that the depth spots are open. Quan Bray stands a good shot at one of them due to his return abilities, while Brian Tyms figures to have as good of a shot as anyone to earn a roster spot as a depth receiver after receiving significant reps in offseason work.
Tight End (3): Dwayne Allen, Jack Doyle, Erik Swoope
Allen and Doyle are pretty secure in their spots on the 53-man roster, but the third tight end spot is up in the air. Swoope has the best chance and is considered the favorite, but it’s a make-or-break camp for him with undrafted rookies Mike Miller and Darion Griswold also looking for a spot.
Offensive Line (10): Anthony Castonzo (LT), Jack Mewhort (LG), Ryan Kelly (C), Hugh Thornton (RG), Joe Reitz (RT), Le’Raven Clark, Joe Haeg, Austin Blythe, Jonotthan Harrison, Denzelle Good
My projected starters are designated in parenthesis above, though the right guard and right tackle positions will be up for competition in camp and preseason. The Colts have several rookie draft picks who will be contending for depth spots (Clark, Haeg, and Blythe), as well as some other talented players returning (Harrison and Good).
Defensive Line (7): Kendall Langford (DE), Henry Anderson (DT), David Parry (NT), Hassan Ridgeway, Zach Kerr, T.Y. McGill, Kelcy Quarles
The defensive line could be a strength of the team in 2016, depending on health, and a main part of that is depth. Ridgeway, Kerr, and McGill are all deserving of roster spots, while Quarles has a much better shot now that Arthur Jones will miss the first four games. He won’t count during the 53-man roster during that period, so the Colts have time to evaluate the position before having to make a final decision on him. If Anderson is healthy and ready to go for week one I could see the Colts only going with six, but because of the uncertainty there I think they’ll keep seven around - at least initially.
Inside Linebacker (5): D’Qwell Jackson, Nate Irving, Sio Moore, Josh McNary, Antonio Morrison
I project Nate Irving to win the starting spot alongside D’Qwell Jackson, and Sio Moore, Josh McNary, and Antonio Morrison could all provide very capable depth at the position and on special teams.
Outside Linebacker (5): Robert Mathis, Erik Walden, Trent Cole, Trevor Bates, Curt Maggitt
As I looked at the Colts’ roster, I found myself thinking that this could be one of the tougher positions on the roster to project. Mathis, Walden, and Cole will make it, but after that it’s anybody’s guess. The Colts could go with one or two other players, and it will basically be whoever shows
something anything in camp that suggests they’re worth keeping around. I have Trevor Bates and Curt Maggitt making it here, but it could just as easily be Earl Okine or Ron Thompson.
Cornerback (5): Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson, Darius Butler, D’Joun Smith, Jalil Brown
The top four will make the team, but the spots after that will be decided in training camp and preseason. Brown impressed last year in camp and made the roster, and he wound up seeing significant playing time early in the season due to injuries at the position. He could be pushed by Tevin Mitchel in camp, however.
Safety (4): Mike Adams, Clayton Geathers, T.J. Green, Winston Guy
Green, the Colts’ second round pick this year, will likely play a situational role and contribute on special teams this year and develop behind the starters. At the other spot, Guy seems to have the best chance to make the roster and stick around in a depth role.
Special Teams (3): Adam Vinatieri (K), Pat McAfee (P), Matt Overton (LS)
This one’s easy: the Fourth Down Army will be back for another season, and they won’t really have any competition either.
Practice Squad (10): Stephen Morris (QB), Josh Boyce (WR), Tevaun Smith (WR), Mike Miller (TE), Kevin Graf (T), Junior Sylvestre (ILB), Amarlo Herrera (ILB), Ron Thompson (OLB), Tay Glover-Wright (CB), Tevin Mitchel (CB)
The practice squad is even harder to predict than the active roster because so much of this is based on who the team wants to keep developing, so I want to emphasize that this isn’t as much of a prediction on my part as it is an attempt to list some players who I think are worth watching as potential developmental guys. In other words, these are guys who could wind up on the practice squad when the preseason is over.